Tuesday, January 24th, 2023

Hazel paints positive look in state of city address

By William Kincaid

CELINA - Mayor Jeff Hazel on Monday night painted a picture of a vibrant city that in 2022 welcomed new businesses and residential development, saw park and street improvements and took in heightened income tax revenue.

Hazel delivered his 2022 state of the city to council members and a few residents at the regular council meeting.

"We are proud that we continue to replace and improve our infrastructure. Even under cold weather and spells we have not had the line breaks that we have had in the past," Hazel said. "We continue to strive for improvement for our community, always looking at building from the foundation up.

"We are assuring our citizens and our businesses their government is financially sound, responsibly managed with transparency."

Financial figures

The city collected $7.13 million in income tax revenue in 2022, a 0.5% uptick from the previous year. The city's aggregate tax rate is 1.5%, with 0.5% designated for streets, police and fire expenses. The 0.5% additional income tax haul came in at $2.3 million - 18.6% above projections for the year.

Celina's general fund, which pays for day-to-day operations, took in $8.73 million in 2022, an increase of roughy 12%. General fund expenditures, on the other hand, came in 21% under revenue at $7.1 million, Hazel said.

Hazel said as of Dec. 31, the general fund surplus or carryover was $3.78 million, well above the council established minimum threshold of $2 million.

After paying down $877,000 in principal and $132,000 in interest, the city's overall debt was reduced to about $6.7 million as of the end of 2022.

Department highlights

The city engineering department oversaw numerous projects, including the resurfacing of 9.67 miles of residential streets at a cost of $2.6 million; the $1.06 million reconstruction of 2,830 feet of Johnson Avenue and beginning construction of a $2.1 million new electric distribution building.

The fire department, consisting of 16 full-time and six auxiliary firefighters/emergency medical providers, maintained an excellent ISO rating resulting in a 15% insurance premium savings for businesses and property owners, Hazel said.

In 2022, it went on 1,826 squad runs and 364 fire runs.

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The police department is in the second year of a three-year agreement in which it provides a school resource officer for Celina City Schools. The police department is made up of 18 officers and four dispatchers, Hazel said.

The public works department had a busy year as its 10 full-time employees and seasonal staff maintained 135 acres of park grounds, sports fields, restrooms, shelter houses and other areas as well 111 miles of sewer lines and 63 miles of streets and alleys.

Crews installed over 1,100 feet of concrete walk path and 600 feet of combined curb/walk path in the Bryson Park District. They also laid down a stone parking area for a new basketball court near Elm Grove and added extra parking east of the hot water hole, Hazel said.

The park and recreation department, Hazel said, registered 845 participants in sports programs - a 15% increase from 2021. With a combination of grant dollars, city funds and other monies a new shelter house/restroom, a full-length basketball court and four pickleball courts were built, Hazel said.

Biz/residential growth

Hazel said the city's engineering department issued permits for 12 single family dwellings, two duplexes/triplexes, 26 apartments, five residential additions and three nonresidential buildings.

Several news businesses, Hazel continued, opened or moved to new locations in 2022, bolstering the city's destination status - Dunkin, Grand Lake Eye Care, Steam Demons, Wild Soul Play Studio, Boardwalk Vacation Villas, Enhanced Esthetics Day Spa, FGKS Law, First Call Realty and Rush Sports Complex.

Municipal Court

Celina Municipal Court in 2022 processed 3,521 traffic cases, a 21% decrease; 606 criminal cases; 93 small claims cases, a 30% increase; 561 civil cases; and 181 OVI cases, a 25% decrease.

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